Learning Theory in the Classroom: Application & Trends Video

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  • 0:05 Student Learning
  • 0:25 Behaviorist Models
  • 1:21 Behaviorist Models in…
  • 2:35 Cognitive Learning Theories
  • 4:04 Cognitive Learning in…
  • 5:26 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In this lesson, we will learn about some of the work done by researchers in the areas of behaviorism and constructivism. We'll define the major tenets of some educational theories and look at practical ways to apply them in the classroom.

Student Learning

Learning theories are research-based ideas about how students learn. Theories combine what is known about genetics, development, environment, motivation, and emotions to explain how students acquire, store, and apply knowledge. Let's take a look at some learning theories and how to apply them to the classroom.

Behaviorist Models

What is behaviorism and why does it matter? Behaviorism includes the theories of educational psychology that focus on the environmental factors influencing how students learn.

Ivan Pavlov's classical conditioning was perhaps the first behaviorist theory to emerge. Pavlov recognized that a neutral stimulus associates with a reflex response through conditioning. For example, when a teacher claps out a pattern, students repeat the pattern while focusing their attention to the teacher.

From Edward Thorndike's work, three laws of learning surfaced. The Law of Effect proposes that pleasurable consequences lead to repetition, while unpleasant outcomes extinguish behavior. The Law of Readiness explains that learners will be resistant to learning until they are ready and the `Law of Exercise states that what is practiced strengthens, while what is not practiced becomes weaker.

Behaviorist Models in the Classroom

A teacher can apply the Law of Effect by engaging students in hands-on, inquiry-based, and relevant learning activities, which provide intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic rewards, like trinkets, praise, and recognition are motivating but can actually reduce engagement over time. Providing students with unpleasant consequence for failure, such as missing out of a preferred activity when homework is not completed, is negatively extrinsic. If a student makes the choice that he or she enjoys the defiant feeling associated with not meeting the teacher's expectations, it is negatively intrinsic.

The Law of Readiness supports some cognitive learning theories that we'll discuss shortly, but in effect, if a student is not developmentally ready to learn, he or she will not become ready through punishment or rewards. To use the Law of Readiness, a teacher should allow a student to learn at his or her own pace.

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